agoraphobia, bloggy stuff, coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, Obsession

Saturday Morning Coffee Post

This is day three of my week without social media or news. I suppose that some people would count blogging as social media but I have so little interaction with people here I generally think of it as an online journal and personal portal.

If you have followed me through the years you might know that I began this blog in early 2005 as a healing process for my depression, anxiety, panic disorder and agoraphobia. I am open about my mental health because I strongly believe that we must take away the stigma so that more people, like me, do not wait so long to get help. I am light years better than I was in 2003, which was probably my lowest point, but I still struggle. Much of my problem is physical…panic disorder and depression runs in my family. However agoraphobia is a behavioral response to anxiety so I decided to give behavioral therapy another try. And for the past few years, my biggest problem has been obsessive thoughts and behavior and it keeps getting worse. The political situation in this country has done some real damage to my brain.

Anyway, I’m not going to go into all the details of my therapy, but she gave me two assignments. One was to stay off social media and avoid the news for a week. The other ***GULP*** concerns my game playing. Perhaps it is significant that I waited to tell her that I play games A LOT until the end of our first session. Immediately she said, “Delete your games.”

To the social media break, I said, “Okay, that’s a good idea.” To the game break, I said, “D-delete my games?”

She said, “Ah, there’s the look.”

She nailed my addiction.

I have been playing games all my life, since I was little, to calm my mind. Before computers, since I can remember. I played solitaire and board games where I played both sides. I had a plastic grid with tiny pieces very much like Legos that I constantly made patterns on, sitting on the den floor in front of the TV. (It drove my daddy crazy.) I do puzzles. I am drawn to any game or puzzle that involves logic, strategy, or setting up patterns. Ever heard of nonograms? Candy Crush totally scratches that itch too.

So she backed off a bit when I told her that I didn’t think that I could do that. Instead I am limiting my game playing to a schedule and being aware of the amount of time I spend playing games. I would be embarrassed to tell you how much time I have wasted. It is my way to avoid thinking because my mind is engaged with strategy.

Sewing pieces of fabric together serves this same function, but my sewing machine has been wonky and my hands can’t deal with too much stitching. I cleaned my machine as best I could and the tension has straightened out. It costs about as much to repair this Brother as it costs to buy another, so I won’t be getting maintenance or repair on it again. Once it crashes again I’m going to switch to my mother’s old Singer which dates back to the 50s or 60s. The only reason I haven’t been using the Singer is due to lack of space in my studio. The Macomber loom takes up a lot of space and I need a work table. And I swear that I am going to warp up this Macomber this winter. The warp is measured and ready to go.

Right now I am concentrating on getting my t-shirt quilt finished. It’s beginning to get chilly and the garden is about done. I have never quilted anything (successfully) but this is just a bunch of old t-shirts and it’s not a work of art. I’m going to finish it and get the room back in my studio. I don’t care if the angles are correct or the stitches are even. It’s something to cuddle up with, not to hang in an exhibit. It will be good to get a big project finished.

Also, I finished the summer entries on my tapestry diary and now I’m mulling over how to weave September and October. A lot happened.

Tomorrow afternoon I plan to go down to Gate City Yarns and get a little social time in. Sandy is going to take me out for dinner and we will watch our friend Brad’s jazz band play in the park.

And next Sunday afternoon, I am going to drive to Raleigh for a book making party with the Triangle Book Arts group. I am not going to back out of this one. I have ideas.

In between, I’m going to go to work and get shit done. It’s likely that there will be more frequent blogging.

Back Forty, bloggy stuff, coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, Food activism, Local food, Reading, Slow Food, voluntary simplicity

Sunday morning coffee pot post

I can’t upload to Flickr right now and I’ve been worried for a while about the change in ownership of the platform. I have so many photos on it – over 10K – and over the years I have linked here to my photos stored there. I would be wrecked if the platform changed its code or went bankrupt and dumped my photos. Anyway, I’ll just move along and deal with it later, since it is much too beautiful outside to fart around on the computer. I am writing this on the front porch on my laptop, but I will lose power soon.

One thing that I am trying to be more conscious about these days is my use of plastic. Once you start paying attention, it is stunning how much plastic is in almost everything we use. I don’t have time to avoid it completely. That would require me to commit to buying almost all my food directly from the farmer, and only certain ones at that. I’d almost certainly have to stop buying dairy and meat products. There are some packaged foods that don’t use plastic, but you kind of have to figure it out by buying them and keeping it in your head. Sandy and I decided to start eating vegetarian at home a couple of weeks ago once I cook what’s left in our freezer. However, I don’t think his resolve will last long. He’ll go out and buy something to eat if he doesn’t feel the urge to eat what I’ve cooked.

I really loved the look of Leslie Marsh’s studio when I went there for a book workshop earlier this summer, and my friend the fabulous Zha K was getting rid of most of her possessions to sell her house and get the hell out of North Carolina, so she gave me a lot of baskets and cigar and wine boxes and candy tins. I’ve slowly been transitioning my studio storage over to these boxes and baskets and, most importantly LABELING THEM, and I’ll give the plastic bins to Goodwill or Salvation Army or wherever. This is mostly an aesthetic feel-good action, but I’ll take my feel-good where I can get it these days.

My depression has lifted, THANK GOD, and I hope that I won’t see it again for a while. Or forever, but I’m pretty realistic about the fact that it’s probably something that I have to deal with for life. That’s not to say that there has been an absence of stress or sadness in my life, but depression is not about that. I can cope with stress and sadness when I am not depressed. People who have depression will understand this.

I’m going to work on my tapestry diary this afternoon on the porch. I finally came up with a simple design for June and July that reflected my main focus, although looking at it now makes me realize that I need to reduce the size. Otherwise it will overpower the rest of it. We removed the swing from the porch to make it less crowded. A front porch swing is lovely in concept, but we seldom used it and it divided the space. Now there will be more room for company on the rare occasion that we have more than one visitor.

The groundhogs are back now that the tree removal is over. I’m still getting plenty of tomatoes, especially the ones inside the wire cages. Figs are ripening on the tree, but the few that have ripened so far have been nabbed by the birds. Reflective tape and all. I’ve been buying bicolor corn from Rudd Farms every weekend, enough to eat some and freeze some. Tomatoes, onions, peppers, and some eggplants have gone in the dehydrator. The squash overtaking the back forty turned out to be tromboncino. I’ve got to start putting markers in the garden. These photos are from a week ago so the tromboncino is in the tomatoes now. I should pick the flowers and try cooking them. I’ve never done it.

Soon we will hear if our solar panel installation will be approved by the Historic District Commission. I will be surprised if it is not, but usually there is some caveat that is expensive to add. For example, we have wanted to replace our front door for a long time and our certificate of appropriateness for that has expired because we haven’t been able to find a door that fits and satisfies both of us and the city staff that we can afford. So we still have this wretched hollow 50s ranch-style door.

If and when we get that approval, it will be hooked into the meter so that it should provide all our electricity and we will only have to pay a meter fee to Duke Energy. The cost is not much more that our current electric bill (we pay an average amount monthly on a budget plan). In a few years, if the price goes down for whole house batteries, I’d love to go off-grid totally.

I finished reading Salvage the Bones this weekend. A very difficult book, but I persevered through the uncomfortable content and was swept up in the story. At one point I did not think I would be able to finish it. I’m glad that I did because it is brilliantly written. I found her afterword about her experiences growing up and her experience going through Katrina to be helpful in my understanding of the culture and why she chose Medea of Greek mythology to be a touchstone throughout the book. It also reminded me a little bit of my childhood growing up in rural N.C. even though my black friends were not so poor, my best friend’s father was an alcoholic that raised his family in a falling down house with junk cars and stray dogs all over the yard. The black family I tried to hang out with (the parents on both sides were not pleased) had a Skeeter, and I was reminded of the disconnect between our cultures.

This was an accidental photo but I like it anyway.

Okay, time to cook and freeze corn and weave tapestry on the porch.

bloggy stuff, Reading

Favorite Books: An introduction

I’ve been a voracious reader all my life and my years spent working in bookstores were truly like heaven, except for the physical agony part. If I could have afforded it and my body would have cooperated, I would have stayed in bookselling all of my life. A Masters in Library Science was a brief consideration, until I realized that it was not just about books and I’d have to do group projects. I have had too many student experiences where a group project meant that I did most of the work while begging the others to do theirs. At my grumpy age, I’d probably clench my teeth to the point of breaking all my crowns, and I can’t afford that.

One of my favorite childhood memories is the smell of the inside of the county library bookmobile that visited Marietta during the summer. The librarian selected a stack of books for me and I would have read them all by the time they came back. I don’t remember not being able to read, and there is a family legend of me picking up the newspaper and reading aloud from it before I was in kindergarten, to the shock of the others. Mama read to me from the time I was born. I always wanted to read books that were “above my head” or “inappropriate” for my age. When I ran out of books to read, I read the encyclopedia. One of the items I made sure that I kept from Mama’s house was the set of World Book encyclopedia from 1952. I have a weakness for collecting old encyclopedia volumes and dictionaries to this day.

Anyway, this book list project is going to be my blogging focus this month, maybe even this week if I get really into it. Once I make the posts, I’m going to copy them to pages where I can add to them. Most of the books will be older because I am looking backwards to the ones that turned my head around. Some I have pulled off the shelf to re-read, even though I have about a hundred newer unread books on the shelf waiting for me.

I always thought that I might set up a used bookstore one day, maybe in conjunction with a coffee shop or art space. I don’t think that will happen now for several good reasons, and I am downsizing furiously in case that we need to move. These will be the books that I keep.

I welcome your comments, as always.

bloggy stuff

What shapes me

I’m at the studio, looking out the kitchen window at the bird feeder, the cardinal couple and chickadees and sparrows and what I think is some kind of thrush. They are flitting around but not eating. I look to the side and the orange cat from next door, Ralph, is napping nearby in the leaves, eyes almost but not quite shut. He’s lucky that there’s not a mockingbird around.

Today as I left the house, there was a crow with one white tail feather in my neighbor’s yard.


I’ve decided that it’s time to start writing again, whether here or in my journal. This blog has gone through several transformations since I began it in February 2005. First, it was almost completely about my back yard garden and permaculture. Then things got a little crazy at work and it became a place for therapy. (Later during the difficult transfer from GoDaddy to WordPress I did not transfer a lot of the early, more personal posts.) I talked about depression, anxiety, and panic disorder, and my experiences as a recovering agoraphobic. Mostly my focus was on simple living, organic/local cooking, and food issues, particularly honest labeling.

As I moved forward (step by step, inch by inch) in my healing I was able to do some of the traveling that I had dreamed about all my life. Then I suffered major volunteerism burn-out with the food and environmental organizations. Other writers in the area were blogging about local food and I felt like I had said what I wanted to say, so I pretty much stopped writing about food and wrote more about my personal life and travel.

I made the switch to writing about mostly my artwork and travel as my focus shifted there. The two are interlinked. I stopped writing so much personal stuff. I started feeling weird and preachy about politics. I lost most of my readers to other social media, and I stopped reading many blogs as I got addicted to Facebook.

And you know, that’s a good thing.

I’m a grown-ass woman, and my mama is not around any more to complain about what she hears from people at church about my writing on the Internet.

So I’m going to write about whatever I want, in my voice, which means if I want to say that something is fucked up, I’m not going back to edit it. In real life, I curse like a sailor. If it offends anyone, perhaps this is your chance to move on.

For those of you who don’t know me in real life, this is what shapes me.

My politics are unapologetically leftist. I am not a Democrat. I am not a Communist, and I might be a Democratic Socialist if I have to fall in with a party, which I do not plan to do in the near future. I love Bernie Sanders with all my heart.

I was brought up in a Southern Baptist church that my parents were heavily active in, a church that was somewhat moderate before a hard right turn in the mid-eighties. Now I am unaffiliated in religion as well, although I joined a very progressive Presbyterian USA congregation about the same time that I started the blog that really helped my outlook on life. In actuality, I’m probably an atheist. Or a Quaker. Or a druid, although I dislike the magic part. I’m too logical to be a pagan. I am fascinated with Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism. I’m an ordained Priestess in the Church of the Latter Day Dude.

I’ve stopped labeling myself with what I do for a paycheck. However, although my official job title is “Administrative Support Associate” I refer to my job as “Secretary.” I honor my mother and my aunt that way. I don’t like it when people take perfectly good words and make them pejorative. It makes me stubbornly cling to them.

When people ask me what kind of artist I am, I really struggle with that. I think that almost any endeavor can be art if done with the right spirit. I will call myself an artist, though. That’s progress from the first half of my life.

It should go without saying that I am a feminist, but many feminists annoy the crap out of me.

I am quite pissed off at the protests that dilute their focus by trying to please everybody, because I know it’s impossible. I’m not pleased with people who get hung up on semantics. I believe in courtesy, and listening, but I’m not paying attention to those who think that I’m not doing the right thing or that I’m not doing enough or that I don’t care about their passion or issue because I’m not talking about it. Once they get into scolding, I’m out.

There’s not enough room in my head for all that.


Last night I dreamed that I was walking to my childhood home, about five miles away. I was exhausted and I called my mother and asked her to come get me.

“I can’t,” she said.

“But I’m so tired,” I cried.

“Go pick up your niece. She needs you.”

“I can’t,” I whimpered. “My car has broken down.”

I called my niece at her college about a four hour drive away. “I am coming for you in about four hours. I don’t know how, but be ready.”

My niece: “Sure, great? Who are you?”


I’m doing the best I can.

I’ll keep doing the best I can.

I hope that you will too, whatever that means for you.

bloggy stuff, Obsession


Welp. I came to a decision late last night, something that I’ve been mulling over for quite some time. I have such a love/hate relationship with Facebook. On one hand, it has connected me with old friends and new friends and artists all over the world who I would have never connected without it. But I found myself wasting an enormous amount of time and getting angry with politics and it just wasn’t healthy. I can’t simply get off Facebook. I admin on FB for work and I didn’t want to lose my artist page.

Today I spent several hours creating a new email account, a new Facebook account, adding my new account as admin, inviting my friends to my artist page, and joining the groups that I want to keep. Tomorrow I will deactivate or delete my old account.

Addiction, be gone.

Also, Sandy set up this old laptop for me and so far it is working pretty well. I hope to be blogging more after this and doing more artwork with my computer instead of playing games and arguing politics.

I’m not sure that I will be able to stay off Facebook as much as I’d like, but this is a good start in that direction.

There is a feed from this blog to my Facebook page, Slow Turn Studio. See the sidebar.

Now, off to the studio. I’ve been having great fun with my sewing machine.

bloggy stuff, depression/anxiety, Obsession, Reading

December blogging

I’ve decided to blog every day for the month of December. We’ll see how it goes. Usually this means that I’ll write it the night before I publish it, because of logistics I won’t go into. If nothing else, I’ll post a photo.

I’ve been posting on Instagram lately, and I’m going to pay more attention to my Slow Turn Studio Facebook page, where these posts appear through Networked Blogs. But I just can’t get into Twitter. I’ve tried. I’ll just have to be an occasional Twitter reader. I like the comedians.

Just went to my bi-annual doctor appointment yesterday. I gained a pound, but considering the timing just after Thanksgiving, I’m not very upset. I hope that my cholesterol and glucose readings are better. She gave me a couple of EKGs too to make sure that my occasional heart palpitations are “just” anxiety. I told her about the hellish six months I just went through, particularly with the neck spasms and the teeth grinding, and she asked, “Why didn’t you come in?” Well, what can I say? I wasn’t in a very rational frame of mind. I had it firmly set in my brain that it would be better to suffer through it until my next appointment and be tough than go to her and have to explain it. Thank God I feel more sane and much better physically now.

One thing I know is that I need to embrace is to live in my present instead of constantly daydreaming about moving away. North Carolina is a crappy political place but it is a wonderful place in so many other aspects. I live in a great city which is just the right size and I love my house and my neighborhood and my job. The fantasy that I will be cured of my depression if I move elsewhere is a lie. That doesn’t mean that I won’t move some day, but I need to stop obsessing over it and enjoy my life here and now.

Anyway, the plan for December is to write more, post more photos, and get some art on. Despite the holidays, December is a good month for me. A brief respite before the super busy spring semester begins. I might even listen to some Christmas music.

I’m in the middle of three books right now: Guests on Earth by Lee Smith, one of my very favorite authors, A Visit from the Goon Squad, which I don’t even know if I will finish, UGH, and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell. I’ve read several good novels this year since I discovered the Overdrive app, which allows you to check out ebooks and audiobooks from your local library. I liked The Goldfinch, The Dog Stars, and Station Eleven. My shelves are full of books that I bought at a big charity book sale here in Greensboro on the last day when you could fill up a bag for $10. If I never bought another book, I’d have plenty to read for the rest of my life.

bloggy stuff, coffee pot posts, depression/anxiety, Family, Marietta

Saturday morning coffee pot post

I’ve spent so much time farting around with trying to get my laptop back into adequate working condition that the coffee is nearly gone and I have been resigned to tapping this out with two fingers on my Kindle, which I hate. I am one of the last secretaries; I prefer typing on a normal size keyboard. And…now I am back on the laptop with a mouse and so far Chrome hasn’t crashed. Crossing my fingers.

Seems like the only time I post any more is about travel. Either I’m about to travel or I’ve just come back. Pretty tough life, eh?

Anyway, this week I wrapped up my summer projects at work, mostly, and tomorrow I’m driving to Gatlinburg for a weeklong weaving workshop, which sounds fascinating in concept but I’m not so sure about how I will handle the physicality of the heat in the forecast and how my back muscles will react to nomadic weaving systems. I’ve become such a wimp since I’ve gone through menopause. I am going to take this laptop with me to check email and try very hard to stay off Facebook. I’m not taking the Kindle because of the lure of games, which I have not loaded on this machine. However, I may still blog and I might upload photos from my phone to Facebook and Instagram without reading my feed, because I need a news break in the worse way.

Arrowmont very kindly gave me a gift certificate for what I paid last summer when I had to leave as soon as I got there because of Mama’s passing. They didn’t have to do it, and I didn’t ask for it, but they did it anyway and for that reason I’m already in love with them. I couldn’t fit in another workshop last year and it was hard to fit it in this year, but I did and I upgraded to a private room in a cottage with air conditioning. So, if I can’t physically bear whatever happens in class, I am taking plenty of personal projects and To Kill a Mockingbird, which I realized that I have never read when all the hoopla came out about Harper Lee’s new book. I will probably fill up the whole damn car with my studio, but this one is all about me.

Here’s a link to the workshop description:

^^^Daddy, Laurie, and Sherman.

A dilemma in the computer world is that Flickr is doubling its fee for my Pro account. Granted, they are giving me two year’s warning and that is good. However, as much as I love using Flickr I’m concerned because a) $49.95 annually is too damn much to pay for a photo storage service, and b) does this mean that they are having problems and my photos are in danger of disappearing? I know that Flickr is not used as much as it was ten years ago. I can find a free storage solution, but almost every photo I have on this site actually resides on Flickr. So much code will have to be changed if I get rid of my Flickr account! I have thousands of photos on Flickr. I feel pretty pissed off about the choice that I face.

Boy, this electronic world we live in is so much simpler, right? Now that I have a smart phone it dings and whistles and buzzes at me all the time. I love it but I feel like I’ve fallen further down the rabbit hole.

In the actual world we are selling my mother’s house. We have a buyer, who is getting it for about half of what it is worth, but she will be a good neighbor for our next door neighbor down there, who has done so much for my mother and us. I won’t be getting much out of the deal once my sister and I split the money, but it will be enough to pay off my home equity loan and do a few more repairs to our house. It has depressed me much more that I ever expected, just as the grief that I still feel about Mama’s death is surprisingly fierce and catches me off guard and sends me into tears. However much I despise the thought of living in Robeson County as an adult, Marietta was my home and I was lucky to spend my childhood there. It was a community that took care of me and allowed me to range freely and play tag with horses and build hideouts and catch tadpoles and dig through old trashpiles in the woods and climb as many trees as possible and ride my bike for miles around and my mother’s friends were incredibly patient in dealing with me, although they did report me when they saw me playing tag with a friend on our roof.

But it is time to move on. I’m lucky to have good friends here now, and it frees me up to leave the area if I choose to. I’ve read some very scary stuff about earthquakes and tsunamis expected on the Pacific Northwest coast that has rocked my anxiety world. At least in this area you get some time to get out before you get blasted by a hurricane. I’ve also considered other areas to move to, but you can’t escape climate change and so I may as well stop worrying. I do know that I will NOT consider moving anywhere hotter than here.

Time to get laundry started and start packing for my trip.

Here’s a shout-out to an old friend, a song that applies to me as well:

bloggy stuff

10 years of Slowly She Turned

As much as I despise blogging on my Kindle, I could not let my 10th blogiversary go by without a post.

On Feb. 27, 2005, I began this blog by writing about my back yard garden.  I was in the Masters of Liberal Arts program at UNCG and I was focusing on sustainable food issues and voluntary simplicity. Before I started getting a fair amount of readers, I used it for therapy. I was depressed and had a panic disorder with agoraphobia, and life was a little rough. After a while I deleted most of the more personal posts, and I got tired of writing about food. I loved writing about my travels once I broke out of my agoraphobia and I love photography. Eventually I decided that there was no point in being a burned-out food blogger when so many people were doing it better, and I turned more toward recording my personal life and focusing on my art again.

I’ve always considered this blog to be a personal portal anyway. For years before that I had a website called “jazzzcat productions” where I tested out page designs and wrote whimsical stuff about the cats. At the time there were many cats in my life since we were the caretakers of a feral cat colony on this block. At that time I did some web design work and aspired to a career in Internet technology but I lost interest once it got so complicated and I found a job at UNCG that I enjoyed. I just wanted to do HTML and CSS. Anyway, this is actually about 15 years of online presence for me. Weird.

Now most of my former blog followers follow me on Facebook under my name Laurie Parham O’Neill, which I enjoy more. I don’t tweet though. I can’t quite understand it. I would do Instagram if I wasn’t one of the few First World people who do not have a smart phone. If you try to friend me on Facebook, please let me know how you know me (even it is just from reading this blog) or I won’t respond. Most of my posts are public for the first few weeks.

I do have a lot more that I want to write about, mainly my tapestry progress and my plans for the year. (!!!) But I do hate typing on this itty bitty keyboard so I will try again tomorrow when hopefully I will figure out why the keyboard on Sandy’s computer does not work.